In the late 1800′s the “Wild West” was full of adventure, opportunity and danger with little in the way of amenities. Pioneer Laurence H. Rooney braved it all when he traveled from Iowa to the Oklahoma Territory and opened a general store with a sideline construction business. His strong work ethic and honest reputation were essential in the harsh outlaw prone environment. One year prior to his arrival, the last of the land runs had taken place and settlers were building homes and businesses throughout the Territory. As Laurence’s reputation for honesty and hard work grew in the community so did his building business. It wasn’t long before the sideline business became primary and in 1896 Manhattan Construction Company was officially born.
As the first company to incorporate in the new State of Oklahoma, Manhattan played an important part in building the Southwest. Among the dozens of schools and courthouses, Manhattan also built the Oklahoma State Capitol building. The fact that the company returned a century later to add a dome to the building is a testament to the commitment to a repeat client philosophy. Another major historical landmark constructed was the First National Bank building in Oklahoma City, which at the time was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River.
During World War II, Manhattan completed over one billion dollars in military base, hangar, apron, barrack and other defense mobilization projects for the United States Defense Department. For such achievements during World War II, Manhattan was awarded two of the coveted Army-Navy “E” awards for excellence.
Over a century of time, Manhattan expanded south to Texas, east to Washington, D.C., Georgia and Florida, and internationally to Mexico and now performs work throughout the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Building trust through honorable actions was the cornerstone of Laurence H. Rooney’s philosophy of doing business. Four generations later, Laurence’s great grandson, Francis Rooney guides the company with these same timeless values with clients, employees and the community.
Manhattan is widely known for building high-profile, technically difficult mega projects like Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, with the first retractable roof stadium in the NFL; the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, which is recognized as the premier sports venue in the world; and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., which sees nearly three million visitors per year. Manhattan has a diverse project portfolio and is recognized for building excellence in sports stadiums, healthcare, government, education, laboratory, aviation, transportation, convention, casino and hospitality facilities.
The company has grown into one of the largest privately-held construction firms in the western hemisphere and continually ranks on ENR’s top lists including general building, sports, entertainment, education, government and green building.
Manhattan constructed the Oklahoma History Center (foreground), and the Oklahoma State Capitol Building (background), both in Oklahoma City.
"Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication that is not only for preserving, but making Oklahoma history."
Bob L. Blackburn, Ph.D. Executive Director
In 1896, the company founders traveled to New York to incorporate because Oklahoma was a "Territory" and would not become a state until 1907. Urban legend or truth, we'll never know - - a clerk stated the company needed a name and because they were in the middle of Manhattan, that was the first thing that came to mind - - hence the name Manhattan. Manhattan holds the first corporate charter in the State of Oklahoma.